ALISON Leonard insists she now has the confidence to mix it with the best in the world after exceeding all of her expectations at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix.

Having failed to earn selection for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Leonard headed to the host city and Hampden Park simply looking to test herself against an international field.

And she did that and more – not only finishing the 800m in an impressive fifth place but also crossing the line in a new personal best time of 2:00.08 minutes.

That allowed Leonard to celebrate booking herself a place on the British team that will head to Switzerland next month for the European Championships – all of which came as a shock to the 24-year-old.

“I am so happy, I can’t believe it, I never expected to come and run that fast,” said Leonard, who hopes to compete throughout the Summer Series.

“I felt like I have been ready for a personal best for a while but that was ridiculous and exceeded all expectations.

“I have been nursing my quad since the British Championships so I felt really fresh out there as I have only done two light sessions since Birmingham.

“That has given me so much confidence as that is like a step nearly into the world-class category, I am so happy.

“I have been making the finals of national championships for a while now but never breaking through even higher but that has given me the confidence that I can do that, I am so happy.

“This means I am going to Europeans too which is amazing and I can’t wait to get going now.”

Leonard wasn’t the only Brit to shine in the women’s 800m with compatriot Jessica Judd finishing third and Jenny Meadows also in the mix in Glasgow.

There was also much hope for Scottish hopefuls Lynsey Sharp and Laura Muir. But Sharp and Muir had to settle for sixth and ninth place respectively as American Ajee Wilson took the win.

But, rather than curse the increased strength in depth that she finds herself up against in the 800m in Britain, Leonard is instead relishing the challenge of it.

“The 800m has gone mad this year as before you had to run two minutes five seconds to qualify for a final,” she added.

“And this year you have to run even faster and there are so many girls under 2:3, 2:2. But it is so good for the country but also so good to be a part of as it spurs me on.”

Burnley hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon didn’t compete as her event was not part of the programme.

She will be in Glasgow though for the Commonwealth Games which get under way in Scotland next week.

Hitchon is also expected to join Leonard in the British squad for next month’s European Championships in Zurich.

* Sainsbury’s is proud to support British Athletics through the Summer Series events and is committed to helping young people lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

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